“These movies are a prop master’s dream come true,” says property master Kristopher E. Peck, who held the same position on MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II.
One of the biggest gadgets, the IMF train, is one of Brad Bird’s favorite sets. Designed by Jim Bissell and built on a soundstage in Vancouver, the set appears bombproof inside. “It’s oval-shaped and designed to look like it’s prepared to take a huge concussive shock, and be a good command center for any situation.
It’s just loaded with all the special gadgets they could need.” says Bird. “It was full of all sorts of gimmicks,” Bissell explains. “Sliding trays for weapons, televisions that you pulled out of the wall and then slid down with hydraulic stands that pop up and allow you to swivel them anywhere you wanted to.”
Among the most important pieces of equipment is, of course, the indispensible MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE mask making machine, designed in part with the makeup effects department. “That’s one of the really great props from the TV series,” notes Peck. “Benji’s quite obsessed with the mask machine,” says Simon Pegg. “I think he harbors a secret desire to wear one. It’s so funny, because when you go through makeup, you know how long it takes to put on a prosthetic and how much work it takes to make someone look like someone else. I love that idea that they have this machine where you just push a button and you’re someone else.”
Peck also came up with the design for the Gecko Gloves, which Ethan uses to climb the outside of the Burj Khalifa. “Kris really came up with the technology and the backstory behind those gloves,” says Peitzman. “They’re one of the most amazing props in the movie. Those were something Cruise had ideas and concepts for at my very first meeting. He actually recognized what the issues would be, about the gloves slipping or of not sticking, not fitting properly as well as for lights that come on to determine proper adhesion to the surface.”
Peck and his team also created the cool communications device Ethan wears while he’s climbing the Burj. “It’s supposed to appear as if he’s using it to communicate with the IMF team, but we realized we were actually going to need a way to communicate with him while he was going to be on the outside of the building. So, we collaborated with the sound department to make it truly functional – he’s actually online with the director and stunt coordinator while he’s doing his climb.”
Another interesting prop was the cheget – a briefcase meant to look like a slightly older version of a nuclear football. “It’s got all this solid state analog technology that looks like it’s fail-safe,” Peck says. There was little research the designer could do to replicate one – there aren’t a lot of them around. “The first thing we did was reach out to people that are in the know in that world. We contacted Sandia Labs, who have a really great museum with nuclear briefcases dating back to the 1960s. We took that concept and built on it for modern day.”
The IMF Rolling Safe House, a secret hideout located in what appears to be a decrepit railroad car stored in a Russian rail yard, protected the team’s gadgets. “On the outside, it looks like something a blues musician would live in,” laughs Simon Pegg. The inside, however, is a veritable one-stop shopping experience for IMF agents who need a change of identity, to refresh their weapons cache or make repairs.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL offers up the kind of entertainment experience action fans crave, as MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE films have from the very first in 1996. “It’s the epi e of what a popcorn movie is,” says Cruise.